By Mark Conley
We’re all familiar with the game Tetris. In it, you try to fit the block set in the best possible slot. Fitting customer applications into the capacity and performance slots of a storage cluster is much the same sort of challenge.
Channel partners know that customers want to deploy more applications, more nimbly. They want infrastructure solutions capable of delivering compute, networking and storage predictably and on demand. They want to dramatically raise operational efficiencies, innovate more quickly and respond to application and business challenges faster than ever.
As a trusted adviser, your role in providing this agility can differentiate you from the competition.
At the heart of delivering infrastructure on demand, and as a service, is the concept of multi-tenancy. While the opportunity to run a broad array of applications within a single system may sound appealing, the reality can be very different. When a large number of performance-sensitive applications are consolidated onto a single platform (traditional or flash), noisy neighbor applications tend to show up and cause resource contention, unpredictable application performance and unhappy customers.
But with countless vendors and high-performance, all-flash solutions available on the market today, how do you, as a VAR, solution provider or system integrator, find the right one to meet your customer’s need for better performance in a multi-tenant setup?
The answer is simple: Quality of service is king.
QoS is a critical enabling technology for delivering consistent primary storage performance to business-critical applications in an enterprise infrastructure. But, simply providing raw performance is often not the only objective in these use cases. For a broad range of business-critical applications, consistent and predictable performance are the more important metrics.
Unfortunately, neither is easily achievable within traditional spinning-disk storage, or even all-flash, arrays. In a multi-tenant environment that is prone to noisy-neighbor issues, it is QoS that provides control over how resources are shared and prevents the most raucous application from disrupting the performance of all the other applications on the same system.
But effective QoS in storage is not very common. Most approaches to storage QoS are “soft” — meaning they are based on simple prioritization of volumes rather than hard guarantees around performance. They are often an afterthought, and as a result, they tend to be effective only as long as the scope of the problem remains small. At scale, they quickly fail. Some of these soft techniques that you, as your clients’ trusted adviser, should be aware of include:
The limitations of these approaches make it clear: To deliver predictable, guaranteed performance in a multi-tenant environment, QoS has to be a system design goal, considered from the very beginning. Being able to guarantee performance in all situations, including failure scenarios, system overload, variable workloads and elastic demand, requires an architecture built from the ground up specifically to guarantee QoS.
When You Need the Very Best
The right storage architecture can overcome predictability challenges. When a customer needs guaranteed performance, you can deliver by adhering to six core architectural requirements. It may not be an inexpensive setup, but results will be predictably good:
Your customers’ storage teams are tasked with figuring out how to build a flexible, scalable platform that can support multiple workloads while improving operational efficiency. Up until now, storage admins or their MSP partners have spent the bulk of their time tuning, tweaking, planning and troubleshooting storage performance.
It’s time to put an end to this by providing a solution that not only ensures predictable performance for customers with multi-tenant environments, but also helps them gain a competitive edge. That will enable you to become a trusted partner for enterprises going to the cloud and transitioning to the next-generation data center.
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